We all know that cats love milk, but what if you don’t have cow’s milk in your fridge? Is it okay to give your cat oat milk?
Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian at Cat-World.com and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine reminds cat owners that most cats are actually lactose intolerant, so cow’s milk really isn’t good for them either.
That said, oat milk is better for your cat than cow’s milk, and it is okay to give it to them in moderation. Here’s what you need to know before giving your cat oat milk.
Can my cat have oat milk? Are there any benefits to cats drinking oat milk?
Your cat can have a small amount of oat milk on special occasions. According to Dr. Ochoa, you should give your cat oat milk “only on special occasions.” She goes on to say that, “Too much can cause them to be sick.”
Even though a small amount of oat milk is likely unharmful for your cat, it isn’t beneficial for them either. The only real benefit of oat milk to your cat is the contentment at having a tasty treat.
“Oat milk does not have any real health benefits but is better than drinking cow’s milk. Most cats are actually lactose intolerant and will develop diarrhea if they drink too much cow’s milk.”
What are some disadvantages of oat milk to consider?
There are several disadvantages to oat milk as a beverage for your cat.
- Too much can give cats diarrhea, and long term digestive problems can happen if they are given oat milk too often.
- Oats and other grains are hard for cats to digest. This means oat milk is likely to give them a sore belly, bloating, and stomach upset.
- Commercial plant milks contain added salt and sugar your cat doesn’t need.
Here are some other things to consider while you are deciding whether or not to give your cat oat milk.
Will oat milk hurt my cat in any way?
Because oats are hard to digest, frequently giving your cat oat milk could lead to bloating, belly ache, diarrhea, or vomiting. In addition, the added sale and sugar in the oat milk could contribute to other health issues like diabetes and heart problems. However, for most cats, giving them a small amount of oat milk on an occasional basis will not harm them.
What signs of potential digestive upset should I look for?
There are several signs that you should look for when you give your cat oat milk for the first time. Start them off with an extremely small amount and look for symptoms of distress. Obviously, if your cat vomits or has diarrhea it will be immediately clear that you should not give it to them again.
Other signs that your cat is in distress may be more subtle, and could include:
- Meowing loudly
- Curling in on its belly protectively
- Urinating or defecating outside the litterbox
- Retreating and hiding
If there is any sign that your cat is in severe pain, you should take them to the vet just to be sure.
How much oat milk should I give my cat?
Dr. Sara warns repeatedly that oat milk should not be given frequently or in large amounts. For cat owners who want to give their cat this tasty treat, she has this advice:
“If you are offering your cat oat milk, I would only allow them to eat less than 1/4th cup and only on special occasions.”
How often can oat milk be given to cats?
Since cats can’t digest grains well, you shouldn’t give your cat oat milk on a regular basis. Many vets will tell you to never give your cat oat milk. If they drink some oat milk out of a cereal bowl on the counter, for example, it isn’t likely to be very harmful. But giving them oat milk on a regular basis will certainly cause them health issues.
Can oat milk replace my cat’s water?
If you have difficulty getting clean potable water where you live, you might be wondering if you can replace your cat’s water with the oat milk that you yourself drink. Unfortunately, this is not going to work. Cats must have at least 3.5 ounces of water daily to be healthy and hydrated. Oat milk, nor any other liquid, can take the place of that water.
Which is best for my cat – oat milk or regular cow’s milk?
In short, cats should generally stay away from all milk, whether it be from plant or animal. However, if you were to give your cat milk, oat milk is better for them than regular cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains lactose, and most vets agree that cats are by and large lactose intolerant after they have been weened.
When asked if she would give her own cat oat milk, cow’s milk, or something else, Dr. Ochoa had this to tell us:
“I would not offer any types of milk to my cat. He will from time to time get on the kitchen counter and find an old cereal bowl in the sink and drink so of the milk. Many times this is oat milk or almond milk which I know if better for him than plain cow’s milk.”
Here are some more interesting FAQs about giving your cat oat milk.
Is milk actually healthy for cats? What’s the best milk for my cat?
According to Dr. Sara Ochoa, “Most cats are actually lactose intolerant and will develop diarrhea if they drink too much cow’s milk.” Vets at Cat-World.com agree that cats typically become intolerant to lactose shortly after weening. Although they do not typically contain lactose, plant based milks are also inappropriate because cats’ stomachs are not equipped to digest the grains.
Is oat milk lactose-free?
Oat is lactose free naturally, and no lactose is added to oat milk. The dangers in oat milk for your cat have nothing to do with lactose, but rather are related to the fact that their digestive systems aren’t designed to handle whole grains like oat.
How can I tell if my cat has lactose intolerance?
Diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain are all signs that your cat is intolerant to lactose. These symptoms could arise at any time within 12 hours of the cat consuming the dairy products.
Can cats have almond milk?
Cats can have almond milk, and it is actually much better for them than oat milk or cow’s milk. Almonds are a processed nut, and as such your cat can digest it just fine in most cases.
My cat loves the taste of milk. What can I give cats instead of milk?
Aside from the popular oat and almond milks, there are some other milk options that are not bad for your cat. In particular, soy milk is not harmful to your cat in moderation. Soy is actually used as a protein supplement in many cat foods.